Banned App Podcaster forced underground (updated)

Banned App Podcaster forced underground (updated)

Summary: Late last week Apple denied distribution through the App Store for an iPhone version of Podcaster an application that allows you to subscribe, manage, stream and download podcasts directly to your iPhone and iPod Touch.Apple's rationale:Since Podcaster assists in the distribution of podcasts, it duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunesNot only is this a totally lame response, it's actually false.


Banned App Podcaster forced undergroundLate last week Apple denied distribution through the App Store for an iPhone version of Podcaster an application that allows you to subscribe, manage, stream and download podcasts directly to your iPhone and iPod Touch.

Apple's rationale:

Since Podcaster assists in the distribution of podcasts, it duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes

Not only is this a totally lame response, it's actually false. The iPhone's version of iTunes has very limited iPod functionality – it can only play them. In fact, the iPhone has no support for downloading or managing podcasts whatsoever, a gap that Podcaster was hoping to fill.

TUAW notes that some "duplicate functionality" already exists on the iPhone, like Twitterfic's Web browser and the many calculators that are available from the App Store. It's also hypocritical to ban an application like Podcaster, but to allow an application like Simplify Media (iTunes link), which streams your desktop iTunes library to your iPhone, on the App Store. Why one and not the other?

What Apple is actually saying is that Podcaster duplicates functionality of iTunes for the desktop – and that's off limits. Either that or Apple is saying that no iPhone app can duplicate functionality that they're thinking of adding in the future. Since we're may release similar software in the future it's off limits to you. Lame.

If Apple's desktop software is off limits, then is NetNewsWire in jeopardy? After all, it duplicates the RSS reading functionality in the desktop versions of both Mail and Safari. Panic co-founder Steven Frank notes "If Apple adds an RSS reader in firmware 3.0, does NetNewsWire get pulled from the app store for duplicating functionality?"

We've always known that any application that directly competes with one of Apple's bundled apps is off limits. This is why there aren't any third-party email clients, music players or Web browsers for iPhone. But to ban an application like Podcaster for duplicating functionality of a subset of an application that exists on the desktop is totally unacceptable.

The banning of Podcaster actually brings up a great point. Why can't podcasts be downloaded Over The Air and managed directly on the iPhone? Didn't Apple invent the entire podcast ecosystem? Why aren't they tending to their precious technology and advancing it forward with new features? The answer: Apple doesn't care about podcasts because they don't generate revenue.

As a result of Apple's Orwellian heavy handedness Podcaster has been forced underground and has resorted to guerilla tactics. They're now distributing Podcaster by exploiting Apple's Ad Hoc distribution system that allows developers to self-distribute up to 100 copies of their software. Get it while you can: register your email address on their Web site, enter your iPhone unique ID, then send them $9.99 via PayPal and they'll email you a download link.

The developer cautions:

The program should work for a minimum of one year but since Apple can turn it off remotely, the 1 year installation is not guaranteed. We will do everything in our power to keep the program working. All donations are final and cannot be refunded.

Kudos Podcaster. Fight the power.

Update: FAQs, Wiki and issues are posted on the Podcaster Google Code page.

Topics: Apple, Browser, iPhone, Mobility

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  • Anti Competitive monopolistic behavior

    This is typical anti-competitive behavior. Locking operating system to hardware platform and then killing off all competition by controlling what gets installed. What if Microsoft didn't allow firefox or any other to be installed on windows because it duplicated Internet Explorer's functionality. Everyone would be outraged then!
    All developers, stop coding for this closed monopoly.
    • Add Wii, PSP, X-Box, etc to this ACMB list!!!

      Oh, wait, ha ha, I get it, you were being ironic, right?
      • And Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler

        as their parts aren't interchangable either, a closed system as it where.

        Oh wait, you were being ironic, right?
        • 1 word for you

          AFTERMARKET. There's nothing stopping you from going to NAPA and buying Monroe shocks for your Ford and Ford hasn't threatened to sue if you Monroe.
          • He could have been refering to that

            because there's nothing stopping you from going out and buying games for the XBox or Wii from companies other then MS and Nitendo.

            Here it looks as though Apple is stopping you from doing just that.
            John Zern
    • Remember, you do not own the OS, you just lease it.

      If you owned the OS, you could do anything you wish with it.
  • I have to agree on this one...

    Apple is way overstepping it's bounds IMHO.

    They don't own the iPhone. The customer does. The customer can do any thing they damned well please with it.
  • Orwellian indeed

    I find it somewhat amusing that the company that paid, at the time, the most money ever for a Super Bowl advertisement showing themselves as the power fighting the Orwellian IBM/Microsoft regime is now the Orwellian regime that needs fighting. It's all well and good to incite "revolution" unless the revolution is against you. I'm sure that their answer would be that people have a choice to not use the App Store.
    • Or

      [i]people have a choice to not use the App Store[/i]

      That's a dangerous statement. People also have a choice to not buy the phone.
  • Apple = Proprietary

    The problem is most of the people that use Apples products are so blinded by a misguided sense of loyalty that they let them get away with things for which Microsoft would be crucified.

    Say what you will about Microsoft (and I would probably agree with almost all of it), but can you imagine the public outcry and congressional investigations that would result if Microsoft tried to ban third-party software that competed directly with any of it's own offerings (for instance Firefox/Opera/OpenOffice/AIM/Etc.)? But it's OK for Apple to decide what software you're allowed to purchase for your own iPhone? Oh, and they can disable anything they want even after you've purchased it as well? They won't even let people write drivers for third-party bluetooth keyboards.

    Can Apple legally do this... maybe. And if you disagree with the "maybe", think about the anti-trust cases against Microsoft surrounding the bundling of IE as anti-competitive.

    Regardless, I won't be buying an iPhone unless they completely open it up, something that will never happen while Steve "Proprietary Lock-in" Jobs is in charge. Apple makes wonderful products as long as you use them they way Apple wants you to use them. But if for some reason you "Think Different" than Apple, you're SOL.
    • iPhone

      Yes.. it's insane. And very anti-competitive. But we're now
      talking about iPhone. And not every product of Apple. So
      don't generalize about "most of the people that use Apples
      products are so blinded by a misguided sense of loyalty".

      I hate Apple for messing up a could-be-great product like
      iPhone. But there's also a bigger issue there. In the
      american mobile phone market the iPhone is not even that
      different. There is no such thing as open competition
      there. And that's part of the problem.. slowing down the
      american companies' adoption of proper ways of doing
      business, keeping the balance between bottom line and
      allowing customers some breathing room.

      And Apple is not the only company that need's to learn
  • Alex S Interview on Strange Love

    We've been following Alex and Podcaster since we've
    been using the website and beta testing the app. We
    even interviewed him for a previous Strange Love
    podcast. When we saw the news on his blog, we contacted him and he
    graciously agreed to appear on a special tech edition
    of Strange Love. Hear Alex explain in his own voice,
    his surprise at being rejected by the app store:

    Cami Kaos
    Dr Normal
    Dr Normal
  • RE: App Store

    This is another sign of more infringement of our speech and Apple wants us to "drink their version of their Kool-Aid".
    Also "profit" is the other motive that Apple doesn't want this since I think they get a percentage of anything these developer sell, including services. Jason is correct that there is no profit in podcast but there are many things that iPod/iPhone uses that doesn't have a "revenue stream" back to Apple.
  • RE: App Store

    Yet another reason for me to NOT buy an iPhone. Actually it's a subset of the main reason. Apple feels they have the right to manage and restrict my ability to use a computer that I've bought with my money.

    In the unlikely event that Apple takes directions from its customers on how it spends the money it receives from them, I might reconsider.

    In the meantime I have plenty of other options.
  • Alternatives to the App Store and Cydia FTW! Sure, they're only going to have a subset of the iphone owning population, but this is where the most useful apps that are banned from the app store get distributed.

  • RE: App Store

    Microsoft is really losing it in the evil stakes these days. They used to be <i>really good</i> at evil. Now Apple is <a href="">kicking their backsides</a> for evil. When Steve Jobs goes "MuWAAAhahahaha!", the brainwashed minions <i>listen</i>. His henchmen are <i>really loyal</i>, not just getting paid to be. Poor Ballmer.